A common phrase or figure of speech where you forget to leave a way out for yourself.

Happens all the time to novice painters. If you're painting the floor, sometimes a shortsighted person will paint the doorways first. Usually they don't catch on until they have managed to cut off every exit with fresh wet paint.

If you are caught in this:

1. Smack yourself upside the head.
2. Look for an alternative means of escape. Can you climb over a table/ counter? Out a window?
3. Walk across the wet paint. Not much choice, man. Get some paper towels for your shoes, and get more paint.
4. Wait. Hopefully this stuff might dry soon.

The formation of a personal Mythos has foundations in one's past, as well as one's future, and many of the things we think make sense for one reason subconsciously make sense on an entirely different level.

I had to know.

On June 6, 1994 I took my own life and was successful by looking at it from every possible angle aside from the fact that I appeared to come out of it alive. Upon my return the next day, everything that I remembered only sort of made sense. To an examination from a logical perspective I could see myself as having been a tragic victim of circumstance, and yet I could not make sense of why I would decide that suicide was my only escape. Killing myself to escape from a life where people were constantly betraying me and failing to live up to my expectations? That didn't really make sense, and yet I reasoned that because I became a different person after my death experience I couldn't truly understand the nature of the pain my pre-death self had felt.

The series of mental and emotional breakdowns that I experienced between 2006 and 2009 were a culmination of events that transpired combined with the return of memories from my once forgotten past. One of the most peculiar things that came to pass following my death experience was the transposition of two women from my life. When it became clear what had happened it was completely baffling. There had been a "muse," a woman who inspired me and for whom my love and devotion were always unfulfilled, but it was not the woman who became known as The Muse. The actual muse was a woman named Veronica who had joined the Air Force and had ended our relationship when it became unrealistic because she was going overseas and had no intention to return to the places we once called home. We kept in touch for years, sharing ideas and thoughts and philosophies and becoming great friends even as I wrote poetically of my undying love for her. The woman who, following my death experience, became known as The Muse was someone I met just after she turned sixteen. I was just short of turning twenty and took advantage of her after inviting her to a party where I got her drunk. And prior to my experience with death she had become a launching pad for some of the most reprehensible behavior I have ever engaged in. She was president of her class, sophomores in high school at the time I met her, and due to her status and my involvement with her, as well as my access to copious amounts of liquor and drugs, I became quite popular with the girls of her class.

During their Junior year of high school I got into a fairly normal and stable relationship with an adult woman. There was really nothing missing from our relationship and we were together for more than three years, yet I could not resist regularly returning to high school parties and having my way with the easily impressed. This continued for years, until my girlfriend during that time left me for another man and I painted myself as the victim of her having "cheated" on me. It continued until my high school girls reached drinking age and came to a head the night Terry died.

Terry was a member of that high school class, a headstrong girl who always resisted my non-existent charms. On her twenty-first birthday she came out to the dive bar my friends and I haunted and managed to get herself quite drunk. She was completely unable to drive home and none of my friends were interested in giving her a ride. After all, she was the girl who never gave it up so why bother. I offered her a ride while implying that something would have to be given in return. She would have none of it, but she all but begged me to stop thinking with my dick and do the right thing and get her home. I balked. She drove herself and died on the ride home after slamming into a bridge support.

Something in me died after that night and I changed, but not necessarily in good ways. I stopped stalking young girls and started trying to form meaningful relationships with women who were old enough to be capable of such, but I now found myself forcing them to accept my definitions of such relationships. I was an insanely jealous and possessive fool and I did not take well to rejection. One young woman in particular was the focus of my insanity, a woman who cared and loved me but simply wanted me to learn how to chill out. Instead of taking her advice I stalked her, not because she rejected me but because she rejected my definition of our relationship, and the only reason I wasn't jailed for my actions was because she actually loved me and hoped I would one day "get it."

Our high school girls got older and many of them went on to become waitresses. This opened a new avenue for my little band of friends who had gotten quite a taste for petty crime. You'll have to fill in the blanks on what that means, but for a while mastering criminal activity was what we were all about. On the night of my suicide I had become quite convinced the police were on to us and the additional impact of my perception, that a woman I considered my inferior refused to submit to my will, left me painting myself into a corner. All of my efforts had failed. At one time I had been considered a genius, a special student, a person with a promising future and now I was all about chasing women I didn't give a damn about and committing crimes. The night of my suicide, where I told my roommate and closest friend at the time, "Fuck all of this shit. I am done," I didn't see a way out. I was a cosmic and complete failure, and I was pretty much as close to a complete cosmic failure as this world will allow.

His life later changed because he was so overwhelmed with guilt about doing nothing to stop me from killing myself. My life changed for reasons I still cannot comprehend. Death is an amazing life changer.

It makes sense to me in retrospect that I swapped out the actual muse for The Muse, as she was the one I owed the most to. When I found her again, broken and engaging in extreme forms of self-harm, I found myself believing I could save her. In therapy she traced it back, she traced back her pain to the time when she was so young and had been molested by an older guy who then dropped her in order to do the same to her friends. In the end it became clear, and it became what broke me, that I was the source of her pain.

Only by breaking our connection could I help her begin to heal because for her the only way to save herself was to become me, and on my watch she attempted suicide three times, not to kill herself but to learn how to become like me and live without the pain of the past. Her renewed relationship with me showed her that I lived without pain, without regret and without fear. To her my arrogance was something to attain, something to reach for, and the alternative was to instead break me. And break me she did.

Painting yourself into a corner is the most frightening experience we can bring upon ourselves. You continue doing the things you've always done because that is what you know, even as it gives you no real happiness and no real satisfaction. It is just who you are and you must be who you are. What good can come of these things, I asked myself the night of my suicide. What good can come out of what I've done to those girls and the way I've led my life?

These days I counsel teenage girls for a living and at my age I tend to become the father figure or, as I prefer, the enjoyably crazy uncle. Sometimes they become enraged, acting out and telling me I just don't understand the shit they've been through.

More than a few times I have put up my hand, asked them for a moment of their time, and asked them to look into my eyes.

"Look into my eyes and then tell me I have no idea what you're going on about."

Most of the time they take a step back, pause, and say, "Okay. Yeah, I guess you do."

It is amazing the shit you can see in people's eyes sometimes. I'm told my eyes reveal a storm. I'm also told they reveal the calm.

I work with adolescent psychiatric clients, some of which are legtimate psychiatric cases and others who are products of truly jacked up environments. The number of teenagers, male and female, who have been sexually abused by adults is staggering and the product of those experiences is devastating. Until you've been an adult man working with a girl who has been molested and raped most of her life trying to gain her trust you have no idea what is involved. I'm actually rather proud of the fact that doing just this is my specialty. It took me a long time to understand how and why, and considering my past it makes a great deal of sense that I would reach for this lofty goal. I used to win the trust of teenage girls in order to take advantage of them, which gives me a certain perspective on why they need to learn to trust someone again. I often work with girls who have dealt with a man who is like the man I used to be. They are always defending them, blaming themselves as having seduced the man, having deserved what happened to them, or convincing themselves they are in love with said man.

I work at night, on third shift, by carefully considered choice. In some people's view I watch girls sleep for a living, but only the very sharp really understand. I work during a girl's most vulnerable time, when no matter how guarded and how many defenses they have erected they are exposed and unable to defend themselves. Sometimes people ask me why it is that certain girls who stay awake until third shift arrives go to sleep shortly after I arrive and stay awake when I'm not there.

"Because no one fucks with my girls when I'm here and they know this."

"But they know we'll--"

"All girls wait for the moment when daddy saves them from the big bad wolf. No matter how much of an asshole daddy actually is, they want him to fly in and save them at the last moment."

There is a reality to this that will blow your mind when you really consider what it means. A teenage girl will sell out her stepfather for a pizza party and three Ring Dings. She'll go to the wall for her father.

I've seen a girl refuse to tell anyone her father has been systematically raping her for years and another report her stepfather for rubbing her leg once. I once knew a girl whose stepfather raped her for years and then gave herself to him willingly so he wouldn't touch her sister. That girl slit her neck from ear to ear after she found out he was raping her sister anyway. I helped her write a letter to her biological father, who was living in California and had no idea what was happening to his girls on the East Coast. The man may have been broke and down on his luck, but that man summoned all the power that he had to come east, hug his broken daughters and do everything possible to take custody of them.

I knew this strikingly beautiful sixteen year old girl who came into the facility I work in telling everyone she was Michael Myers and that she lived to kill people. She liked to act completely psychotic and make people around her nervous. She claimed voices spoke to her in the night and told her to kill people. She spoke of horrific nightmares. So, I set myself up in her doorway for a week and watched her, while she watched me watching her until she fell asleep.

"Well," I told her. "In your first week here you didn't appear to have any nightmares, I didn't see any spirit people haunting you and you're not Michael Myers."

"Yeah, I know."

"See, what you are doing is inventing all this silly shit to avoid dealing with your real problems."

She'd been sexually abused by men since she was an infant, which her drunk of a father always blamed on her being too pretty, too seductive, too irresponsible. The men who abused her were his drinking buddies who saw his cute little blonde daughter as something to play with after they tied one on. And he never defended her. He always blamed her, because yeah, a five year old is capable of seducing grown men.

"As long as you are here, no one will touch you," I told her. "As long as I am here, you will be safe."

She never had any trouble sleeping after that.

When she graduated the program and moved on, she was very proud of herself. I told her I was proud of her as well, and I told her, "I would be proud to have a girl like you as my daughter."

I've never managed to spawn, but I have a lot of children out there. And every one of them is going to grow up to kick ass. Of that much I am certain.

"You've painted yourself into a corner," I told another girl recently. A girl who was about to graduate and move on elsewhere. "You have what seems to be some pretty cool adoptive parents but you keep wanting to know why your biological parents abandoned you. We all get certain things in life, certain limits, and you can only play the cards you're dealt. You've met these other girls here and you know your parents are a lot better than what some of them deal with."

"I know."

This girl was a writer, a thirteen year old with an amazing amount of raw talent, something I told her regularly. She used to flip out when people took her pencil away from her at bedtime because it was at night that her creative juices flowed best. I spent several nights with her in the "quiet room," the place we take those out of control to regain control. I told her about how I can't read my own handwriting and how I'd asked for a typewriter for my birthday when I was ten years old and how I asked for a file cabinet for my thirteenth birthday. And I told her how I had nearly gone mad when my father told me I couldn't keep typing all night because I needed to go to bed and stop keeping the family awake.

"Everything is about sacrifice. We must practice our art when we can, when the time is right, and right now you have some time, but you also must work within the program and follow the rules. At night you can write in your head. It actually helps you fall asleep easier when you lie down and write a story in your head. It is what I do every day. It is what I have done for decades to help myself sleep, because like you I have terrible insomnia."

After than she stopped having trouble falling asleep and never got into fights with staff about pencils again. And her writing seemed to improve. She left her work each night for me to see.

I devoted more time and energy to that girl than any before, because I saw so much of myself in her, so many of the struggles of my youth brought to life in her. People would refer to her as my kid and whenever she was upset people called me.

She went through a rough patch where she fell back on old habits, hiding pencils and trying to write all night long and not getting up for school in the morning. She was out in the quiet room again when I came in to work and I went in and sat on the floor next to her.

"You realize, of course, that you are now pissing me off."


"I thought we had this covered. Are you really going to backslide on me after all we've been through and start doing all this nonsense again? While you are here you have to follow the program and bedtime is bedtime. That's the end of the story. What part of this have we not covered?"

"I need to write. I have so many ideas."

"Do you know how many ideas I have at night while I am working? What do you think would happen if I stopped watching you girls and just went into a corner and started writing? Monsters would come and eat you all."

"Don't be ridiculous."

"You are a very special girl, and you have to remember that, but everything in its own time. If you can't follow the directions of this program, which you and I both know is simple, then what are you going to do the first time an editor at some publishing house criticizes your work and asks you to change things?"

"I'll go to someone else."

"And they'll be less friendly. Look, I'm the most friendly critic you have, and you know this, and I am telling you to pull it together, follow the rules, graduate from this program and go back to living a normal life. Am I losing anything in translation here?"


Three months later she graduated. It seemed to be a running joke that after weeks of following the program to the letter, including getting out of bed in the morning, she stopped once she had her graduation date set. On her last morning before graduation I was elsewhere but came to see her.

"So you aren't even getting up on your last day here? This is appalling."

No response.

"I'm upset now. Is this what it has come to? Total defiance once you have your papers? What am I going to do with you?"

No response.

"You realize she's purposely not getting up until after you're gone. She doesn't know how to say goodbye to you."

"It is an acquired skill," I told her roommate.

"Pathetic," I called out to my sleeping girl. "Well, I wish you all the success in the world. Do well out there and I want to be able to buy your first book from some suspicious online publisher in twelve years or so."

As I walked away I heard her say, "I'll miss you, too."

Remember, daddy can always arrive at the last moment, even if he gets himself into that corner.

"What is it you do for a living again, Doctor?"

"I have an imaginary doctorate in Sleep Sciences from the University of Saturn. I help girls sleep."

"Are you any good at it?"

"I have no idea."

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